British newspaper the Mail on Sunday will back-up its controversial Prince "covermount" CD campaign with a groundbreaking DVD release.
The Sept. 16 issue will premiere the DVD of Brendan Foley-directed film "The Riddle," which stars Vinnie Jones, Derek Jacobi and Vanessa Redgrave.
Mail on Sunday managing director Stephen Miron reckons the free DVD offering represents another "world first." In a conversation with Billboard.biz, Miron said, "It will be the first time a film has been launched free with a newspaper. We think it will do for the film business what Prince did for the music business. We're pretty excited about it."
Prince's "Planet Earth" giveaway pushed that issue of the Mail on Sunday to record sales of 2.81 million copies, and proved to be one of the hottest talking points in the U.K. industry this summer.
Roughly 2.8 million copies of the DVD will be pressed up. Miron declined to confirm the price paid to Foley, but suggested it was a "comfortable six figure sum." He added, "We're out to provide our readers with the most innovative package on a Sunday, and this is another treat for them."
Speaking from his hometown Belfast, Northern Ireland, Foley said the promotion had some obvious benefits. "Newspapers have those things which are most valuable to producers and partners to distributors," Foley tells Billboard.biz. "They have a built-in massive, multi-million-person distribution networks which can physically distribute DVDs to high quality in short order. And they have massive marketing horsepower."
He adds, "We've had some phone calls from distributors interested in what's going on, who recognize that newspapers are an interesting distribution method which up until now has only been regarded only of use at the end of the value chain."
Foley admits there might be some fall-out following the new DVD campaign.
"I'm sure there's going to be a few angry people," he notes, "but so far the people I respect in the industry are much more intrigued."